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Best practices for managing an emergency doctor schedule

Posted on 1/30/2019 by Elizabeth in category: scheduling software articles

It can be difficult in the best of circumstances to handle the task of creating an emergency doctor schedule to make sure every ER physician happy. Between scheduling conflicts, unexpected illnesses, life events, and lost or forgotten requests for days off or shift preferences, the demands can easily become monumental.

In most emergency departments, there are many other potential problems, like unintentional overtime, rules requirements about maximum hours worked daily, and countless other matters that can render a schedule, once created, ineffective. And, if the schedule is made “old school” through handwriting charts or through antiquated spreadsheet technology, the problem of making quick adjustments is doubly difficult.

Why is the emergency doctor schedule so important? Proper management of emergency physician scheduling can make a world of difference in physician performance, engagement, productivity, and loyalty. Physicians that are happy with their ability to control, at least some, of their own schedules are much more likely to remain in their current situations, creating stability for your emergency department and your entire health system. But more importantly, it can increase the quality of patient care your ER delivers.

These best practices can help you manage your physician scheduling responsibilities more effortlessly and efficiently than you ever thought possible.

Create Standards and Rules about Physicians Submitting Schedule Requests

This includes things like potential scheduling conflicts that can interfere with your schedule, such as:

- Clinic hours
- Symposiums
- Training conferences
- Educational seminars
- Vacation time
- Personal days
- Personal emergencies
- Sick days
- Shift preferences

The more physicians you’re working with, the more vital this requirement becomes.

Require doctors to have requests submitted by a specific date for the following month or make them responsible for finding a suitable replacement that does not require overtime or per diems to cover their shifts.

Invest in Software for Emergency Medicine Scheduling

Shift scheduling software can remove an enormous administrative burden that can tackle in a matter of minutes a task that would ultimately require days of planning for administrative staff members.

The benefits of software for handling shift scheduling include:

- Randomizing holiday hours to avoid complaints of favoritism.
- Eliminating overtime to save your entire department money.
- Reducing physician burnout, which is a constant concern in many hospital ERs across the county.
- Automatic compliance with hospital or emergency department scheduling requirements.
- Prioritizing shift preferences.
- Eliminating conflicts with clinical hours and other educational requirements for emergency doctors.
- Promoting fairness in scheduling.
- Accommodating vacation requests, whenever possible and according to policy.

You can even set up your shift scheduling software for physician scheduling to allow physicians to trade shifts through the software on their own, when necessary, to accommodate for unexpected events. This allows physicians to arrange for their shifts to be covered without turning to hospital administrators to make it happen, which frees hospital administrators to focus on other tasks and efficiencies.

What’s the takeaway? Implement these best practices in your emergency department early in 2019 to reap the benefits not only this year, but in years to come. 

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